At the last report, 2016 had seen some 16 E&A spuds, thereby matching 2015, however with two further spuds taking place in December, 2016 has the edge on the previous year with 18 in total. Operations on five wells (two exploration, three appraisal) were active at year-end, although one was waiting on weather for the rig to move off station.
West of Shetlands
Hurricane reported its Lincoln exploration well, which spudded 8 November, as an oil discovery, identifying a continuous hydrocarbon column of 660m. The in-place volumes are likely to be significant and Hurricane reports potential resources of 250 mmboe, however significant uncertainty remains on the potential recovery factor from this fracture basement play. At year-end, the rig, Transocean Spitsbergen was waiting on weather to complete the abandonment process and move the short distance to spud the operator’s Halifax exploration well in Block 205/23.
Northern North Sea
Apache’s Beryl area Kinord exploration well, 9/12b-12, which was sidetracked on 20 November for geological reasons, has now been abandoned as of 15 December, with the result pending. Both Kinord East and West prospects are understood to have been evaluated in this two leg programme which targeted both Triassic and Jurassic prospectivity.
Meanwhile Maersk sidetracked its re-spudded South Maclure appraisal well, 9/19a-20A, on 19 December, and at the time of writing this well was understood to have been active into the New Year, utilising the Ocean Valiant. The well is understood to be targeting shallow Eocene sand injectites to the south of the Field, and in the event of success, we expect a tie-back over Maclure, thereby supporting production volumes over the Gryphon FPSO.
Central North Sea
In new activity during December, Awilco’s WilPhoenix has moved from the Beryl area to Block 16/1a, where it spudded the last well of the year, on TAQA’s Sturgeon Prospect on 27 December, where it is targeting Tertiary prospectivity north of the Brae area fields. Meanwhile, ConocoPhillips is understood to still be active in its Temple Wood exploration Well 15/29c-16 with the Sedco 712. The HPHT reservoir is expected to have been reached in mid-December following its spud on 24 October.
Southern North Sea
BP has now commenced operations on its Ravenspurn North Deep exploration well (2 December), considered appraisal by the OGA, which will be heavily deviated and likely horizontal to a location to the SSE from the Ravenspurn North Platform, where it will target tight gas in several thin Carboniferous reservoir horizons. The well is expected to remain active throughout Q1 2017.
Whilst year-end figures indicate that 2016 saw a shade more activity than 2015, including almost twice as much resource discovered through exploration (c. 315 mmboe vs 165 mmboe), the outlook was far more dismal at the start of the year, with oil prices dropping to $27/bbl in January and a 161 day hiatus in new well spuds between September 2015 and March 2016. Including sidetracks, just eight wells were drilled in H1 2016, however the second half saw a substantial increase with 17 wells drilled, whilst greater stability in oil price, which on the last day of the year was $57/bbl, means the outlook for 2017 is far more promising than one year ago. UK Well Slot January 2017
David Moseley, 3 January 2016